Page 61 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 54

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prove that he owned the books. . and the related allegation that
Sotheby’s misled prospective buyers and others with false state­
ments in the catalog and in private conversations.12 The Plaintiff
sought to nullify the sale and to have the books and manuscripts re­
stored to a Jewish institution performing functions comparable to
those of the Hochschule. The Attorney General also accused the
seller of fraud and sought to prevent him from getting the proceeds
of the sale. The Defendants, that is, Sotheby’s, the consignor, and
technically also the purchasers, denied the charges.
The other unfinished business was the identity of the consignor.
On August 14, the
New York Times
reported on the Attorney Gen­
eral’s lawsuit. In the same article, it revealed that the Defendants
had provided the Plaintiffwith an expurgated affidavit in which the
seller (name and other identifiers were deleted) described how he
was given ownership of the books and manuscripts by the chairman
of the board of the Hochschule. Opposing affidavits by other sur­
vivors who had been connected with the Hochschule contradicted
the ownership claim. In one of these, Herbert A. Strauss said that
he was convinced that “the only person who could have signed that
[expurgated] affidavit was Alexander Guttmann.” Strauss’s affida­
vit is dated August 3, 1984; its information was made public on Au­
gust 14. A few days later, the world learned that Strauss was right.
Guttmann’s lawyer quickly surfaced with a long memo “To The
News Media,” revealing the Guttmanns as the sellers and detailing
their story. He wrote, “There is a story breaking out of New York
today regarding Dr. and Mrs. Alexander Guttmann of Cincinnati,
whom our firm represents. They have asked us to handle news me­
dia inquiries in conjunction with this matter, which relates to their
recent sale of Hebrew books, manuscripts and prints.” The memo
described the three accompanying documents as 1) Background,
overview, chronology; 2) Statement by Dr. Alexander Guttman;
The Guttmann Affair
12. McGill, August 14, 1984.